INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975
Release Date: 21/03/1974
Release Type: Media Release
Transcript ID: 3195
Document: Original Transcript (PDF 105.31 KB)
1 4 NQ DATE
M/ 41 21 March' o
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIIIINATION
The Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr Whitlam, today reaffirmed the Government's opposition to
racial discrimination and its commitment to the basic principles
of freedom and dignity for all people regardless of race, sex,
language, religion or ethnic origin.
Mr Whitlam said that in 1966 the United Nations General
Assembly had proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the
. Elimination of Racial Discrimination in commemoration of the
Sharpeville tragedy. The aim was to draw world attention to the
urgent need to eliminate racial discrimination wherever it existed.
Mr Whitlam said that the Government would continue to
condemn the apartheid policies of the South African Government, but
he did not see the day simply as an occasion to point to the
shortcomings of others. It was also an opportunity to examine
where Australia itself was headed.
Mr Whitlam said that on 21 November last, the Government
had introduced into the Senate two Bills, the Racial Discrimination
Bill 1973 and the Human Rights Bill 1973, both of which had
impori-.! it implications for the prevention and elimination of all
forms of racial discrimination in Australia.
These Bills would be re-introduced in Parliament in an
amended form in the Autumn session.
The proposed legislation on racial discrimination would
implement the terms of the . International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which the
Government would ratify.
This Convention recognised that any doctrine of superiority
based on racial differences was fundamentally false, morally
indefensible and without any social justification,. The Racial
Discrimination Bill condemned racial discrimination as being
unlawful and provided administrative machinery as well as legal
sanctions to prevent and eliminate racial discrimination as far
as possible. Mr Whitlam said that the Bill provided for an Australian
Race Relations Commissioner, and a Race Relations Council. Their
functions would be to promote understanding and tolerance between
racial and ethnic groups.
The Racial Discrimination Bill was a major step in
Australia's program to implement the Decade for Action to Combat
Racism and Racial Discrimination, launched by the United Nations
on 10 December 1973. Australia welcomed the Decade as a positive
and necessary means of tackling the problem.
Mr Whitlam said that other action taken by the Government
' to counter racial discrimination included contributions, totalling
$ 25,000 in 1973/ 74, to the United Nations Educational and Training
program for Southern Africa, the United Nations Trust Fund for
South Africa and the United Nations Fund for Namnibia.
By its actions and votes at the 28th Session of the United
Nations General Assembly in 1973 the Government had clearly
indicated its resolve to help to eliminate all forms of racism and